Secluded Luxury – ACCOR Style
No Banana Boats, No Umbrella Vendors and No Harassment
by John K. Lindgren
Location & Check-In
SO Sofitel Hua Hin. The name says Hua Hin but the location is Cha-Am by the beach. Charming old laid-back Cha-Am town, Phetchaburi province 25 minutes from Hua Hin, but without the new mega shopping malls, multiplex cinemas, swank condominiums, Starbucks and the weekend traffic jams. In Thailand there aren’t many beaches left where you can decompress in the surf undisturbed, watch the horizon and walk the sandy beaches.
Driving, arriving 173 km from Bangkok at the main Cha-Am intersection. Left turn continue direction the beach. After 100 meters at the Family Mart left again. After 5 km hit SO Sofitel Hua Hin sign. At the end of a small lane a circular driveway, the green lawn and a giant white rabbit statue with a clock, the timekeeper greeting us.
Valet parking. Up the majestic off-white marble entrance stairway to the soaring al fresco lobby with a view of the vast pool. Swift check-in with sea breeze and chilled herbal welcome drinks.
This is Thailand’s “starchitect” Duangrit Bunnag’s original bold structure featuring an interwoven maze of open courtyards and private pathways. Flat, grey concrete rectilinear minimalist architecture that blends with the natural surrounds. Plants, flowers and trees galore. Contemporary tranquility mixed with playful and stylish ambiance by French designer Donatien Carratier, the visionary behind SO Sofitel Hua Hin’s ‘Evolution of Life’ theme with wild animal sculptures around the reflecting pond and those rabbit statues throughout the resort. Expect surprises around every corner of the resort. The kids love it.
The resort boasts 71 SO guest rooms and six exclusive SO Pool Villas. Two distinct room styles: SO Nature, a mix of simple natural elements and lavish French refinement; SO Arty, blending the sophistication of the past with chic, contemporary design. Two outstanding restaurants, one rooftop bar, two swimming pools, SoSPA and SoFIT fitness center, and meeting facilities.
Room & Bathroom
Our guest room, one of the SO Arty units, boasts 60 square meters of cool concrete, polished floors and tall ceiling. Shades of gray, punctuated by a museum size bright red ballerina painting and the chandelier. Comfortable easy chairs. Bed and pillows combine softness and support with cool crispy linen.
In-room complimentary goodies like premium Illy coffee and tea selection and daily English and Thai newspapers. Free Wi-Fi for Facebook junkies. Bathroom, again concrete industrial chic décor. Size at least double that of standard five-star hotel bathroom. Large marble tub, double vanity wash basins, and a Dornbracht RainSky shower 4 meters high up, providing a real rain shower experience. Plus delicious smelling HIS & HERS SO amenities.
White Oven gourmet restaurant at the edge of So Pool serves mouthwatering array of Asian and international cuisine including vegetarian, Halal and de-light menus in a casual but unique setting with amazing clamshell chandeliers, paintings up in the ceiling, tasteful bric-a-brac and SO comfortable chairs.
But, as the sun sets over the Gulf of Thailand, we head for Beach Society. Gastronomy by the sea and a succulent seafood BBQ with creative snacks washed down with a glass of chilled, dry Aussie sauvignon blanc house wine. In the speakers chill-out lounge music tracks by DJ Junior.
Next day. Breakfast. In French Petit Dejeuner. No, this is not “petit” or small it’s lavish. An astonishing wide selection of western and Asian options including Phetchaburi local specialities and an array of oven-baked bread; flaky butter croissants, fiber loaded rye rolls and savory creamy pastry. Or healthy fresh veggies and juices in green, red and yellow hues. I go for muesli and Egg Benedict washed down with premium cappuccino and double espressos (no sugar!). At the corner juice bar: smoothies and coconut ice cream. Also shots of anti-aging, detox and energy concoctions. Anti-aging for me, four shots! The guests dressed in casual smart outfits; the millennials, young couples with children, hipsters and some young-at-heart tourists all seem SO content with the breakfast buffet and the impeccable service. Petit Dejeuner Fantastique!
Resort sojourn and spa treatment is a must. SoSPA located next to the ‘quiet’ swimming pool. Khun Duangrat, wellbeing manager, and her team provides outstanding service. Ambiance of lemongrass scent in the air and the therapists, the masseuses are attentive “not too hard not too soft”. After my SO soothing and relaxing massage treatment I am laying down in a star glittering ‘cave’ while sipping warm herbal tea. The stress and work-induced low back pain and neck pain has completely vanished. I am taking a nap.
Late lunch (dejeuner) now by the ‘family’ pool next to White Oven. Our degustation menu: Thai classic Larb Moo Thod (Spicy pork balls, fresh mint and spicy mayonnaise). Not too spicy, though. The sharing menu includes my favorite Thai Halal dish Massaman Gai (Spiced chicken curry, peanuts, onion, potato and coconut foam).
Next Yum Pak Bung Thod (Tempura morning glory, shrimp, ground pork, sour and spicy coconut sauce). Dessert a savory Young Coconut Cake with sesame and pandanus plus delicious coconut sauce. Chapeau! Australian-born Head Culinary Designer Angela Brown and her kitchen brigade.
In the afternoon we meet the Argentinean General Manager Pablo Barruti and the Bangkok-based Swedish-Thai Cluster Director of Marketing and Communications Sebastian Solasachinda, part of the young and dynamic SO Sofitel Hua Hin team.
This “dream team” provided us a chilled-out resort experience where nature, design, gastronomy and flawless service come together to create a luxurious, playful retreat. Far from the maddening crowd and traffic congestions. An unforgettable escape!
As we leave the resort I see the emblematic SO Sofitel rabbit in the rear mirror. “We have to come back,” I say to my wife. She nods with a smile.
Accor, by the way is Europe’s largest hotel group, ranked fifth in the world and they recently bought FRHI Hotels & Resorts that manages “La Grande Dame” Raffles in Singapore and Fairmont and Swissotel hotels. Accor/Sofitel’s slogan: “Life is Magnifique”.
SO Sofitel Hua Hin
115 Moo 7 Bangkao,
Tel: 032 709 555
Email: [email protected]